Thursday, May 29, 2014

5/29/14

Real Estate
By Adam Mac



Once upon a time, at the centre of the universe.


"Pizza looks delicious, hon!"

"It's from that new pizza place, The Very Best Pizza on the Planet. Down the street from the office."

"Catchy name. VB-POP, VibbiePOP. Hm, must be tough to write a jingle for that."

"This the one with the cheese in the crust, Mom?"

"You got it. And four different kinds of meat and double cheese. Thought we'd splurge. Signed a new client today."

"That's wonderful, honey. Could you pass the parmesan, please?"

"And there's more. He's got connections at city hall."

"Think he could help us with the property in the port lands?"

"That's exactly what I'm hoping ... though I have to—"

"Of course. That's terrific news. Anything I can do, let me know."

"Thanks dear."

"So, Tony 'sup?"

"Jeez Dad. Promise you won't ever say that in public."

"Alright, let's see. What did you do in school this week? Better?"

"Slightly. Nothin. We didn't do nothin worth talkin about."

"Anything."

"OK, Mom. Anything."

"Nothing of value in history or math or science, not even in science fiction or current events? Hon, remind me, what's our ROI in this school?"

"Your what?"

"He's a teenager, dear. And Tony, son, just humour your father."

"OK, here's something. There's this tribe of pygmies, like somewhere in Africa or South America, I don't know. Nobody knew about them til one day a plane flew over. The pilot said they got attacked by a swarm of little brown people throwing spears."

"Sounds familiar, hey hon?"

"Mr. MacGuffin, our teacher, said it was a shame, since the people on the plane were most probably planning to bring electricity, running water, medicine and other stuff to the people."

"What a charming touch. You know your old man thought about doing stuff like that. With the Peace Corps, way back before your Mom and I met, hey hon?"

"Still can't picture you doing the B.C. thing in Afghanistan or wherever it was."

"It was just a silly, romantic idea … and like acne I outgrew it."

"And like Sally?"

"Who's Sally?"

"Just someone I knew in college. We were in the same civil engineering program. After she joined Green—"

"Yes, dear. That's ancient history now, isn't it? Now you're in commercial real estate not Save the World. Here, have another slice."

"Thanks, hon."

"You're welcome, dear. Tony, you?"

"Yeah—I mean, Yes ma'am—I'd definitely like another piece, please."

"And I'll have the last one. Not counting points tonight."

"Oh, and son—um, Tony—your mother and I have to go out this evening. We'll be back pretty late, so lock up and turn off all the lights, will you? There's a good boy."

"Tony, have I ever told you what a good son you are?"

"Mom? What's up? Dad?"

"Your mother's having a family moment, son. Mother's do that. It's what makes them special."

"Well, dear I guess we'd better be leaving. Can't be late."

"No, that wouldn't do. Okay son, we're counting on you to hold down the fort. Yudeh man."

#

Way out beyond the edges of the Milky Way, the launch sequence is underway.

Long envied for its proximity to the Sun, the blue planet, whose surface and atmosphere are unsuitable for the Great Species, will be pulverized to make room for a massive sunning rock.

Once the debris field has cleared, time-shares will be auctioned to the most lethal bidders.


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Thursday, May 22, 2014

5/22/14

Footnote #1
By DS Peters


-From Encyclopedia of the Multiverse, book 37, section 4, chapter 21, footnote 17-

Interestingly, Galaxy SB11b once promulgated sentient life on the third planet of its 31,415,926,535th star. On this planet there was a powerful, prosperous, and technologically advanced nation. This nation had too much food, leisure and power; however, one particular item they possessed in abundance gave them troubles without end: Information.
Their methods of information gathering would eventually only be rivaled by Type 1 and Type 2 civilizations in other regions of the Multiverse. (The planet on which this nation was located was a Type 0 civilization.) However, this nation had no means for sifting through this information, and so it was considered a waste of money and resources to collect. It was also determined as imperative to the survival of the nation to get through all of the collected data in order to ascertain threats to the nation and deter the threats before they became attacks.
And so the government of this nation funded a project to create the ultimate super-computer, which would be equipped with the power to go through every last bit of information that was daily generated, and then to winnow threats from the mass of benign data, and to designate each threat with a color-coded level. The mathematical formulas created in order to produce this “moral” computer were truly astounding. (Please reference Technology does not accept exceptions for more information.)
The creation of this computer was accompanied by the advancement and sophistication of drone technology, and it made perfect economic sense to marry the two projects.
It was quite a day, when the new system went online. (Please reference Methods of self-extinction for more information.)


- - -
DS Peters is a poet/writer/professor living and teaching in South Korea.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

5/15/14

Wells
By Nicholas Slade


“I can’t take this anymore.”

“What’s wrong, Kate?”

“Everything, Rose,” I said. “Nothing ever happens in this town. I have been working here in this diner for two years now and nothing has changed. Every day has its regular routine, day after day, and I’m just sick of it.”

“Well, you can’t really expect things to change just by standing around complaining about it, you know?” she said. “You’ve got to find your own path and walk it.”

“How many fortune cookies did you have to crack open to get that line?”

I knew she was right. Rose usually was about those things. But it still didn’t change how frustrated I felt. After college I thought I was going places, but instead I ended up stuck working at a diner in the middle of Hicksville, U.S.A.

“Sometimes, I just wish something would happen, anything at all.”

I heard the entrance bell ring. I went to greet the customer as I always do. He was dressed oddly. A little like Duckie from Pretty in Pink.

“Good evening sir, would you like a booth or a table?”

He pointed at me while pushing up his sunglasses. Why he was wearing sunglasses in the middle of the night, I’ll never know.

“A booth would be fine pretty lady.”

I walked him to his booth. He sat down and put his sunglasses on the table.

“Would you like something to drink?”

“For sure dudette, something hip and cool. Nothing gnarly, but something radical.”

“Whatever you say buddy,” I said with slight annoyance.

I walked back to the kitchen. What the heck is that guy’s problem? I thought.

I brought him his drink and set it on the table.

“Thanks pretty lady,” he said as he took a drink from his glass. “Whoo, that drink was outrageous, totally flash.”

“Excuse me,” I asked. “But what’s up with all the 80s lingo?”

“80s?” he said looking confused. “Oh. Well, this is a little embarrassing. I always get these two decades mixed up. I must look pretty ridiculous in this get up, huh? Well, I can fix that.”

He pulled out a strange looking remote.

“Time for a quick change,” he said as he pushed a button.

A light surrounded his body. I fell to the ground in shock. When the light faded, his appearance had changed. He was now wearing a brown suit and his hair was a lot neater. I looked around to see if anyone else had seen that, to make sure I hadn’t lost my mind, but there was no one.

“There, this should do the trick,” he said as he was fixing his tie.

He looked down and saw me on the floor.

“Oh dear, it seems I surprised you. Here, let me help you up.”

He reached his hand down to me and I grabbed it. I was still feeling a little shaky and sat down in the booth across from him.

“Okay, what the hell was that?” I asked frantically.

“Oh, that was my deluxe fashion switcher. Neat, huh?”

“Do you know how lucky you are no one was around to see that? If this wasn’t the late shift, this place would be full of people.”

“But no one did see it, so we’re all good.”

“I saw it.”

“Well, you seem like a nice enough person. I think I can trust you.”

“You don’t even know me.”

“Oh, that’s right, we haven’t been properly introduced. My name is Wells. What’s yours?”

“It’s Kate, but never mind all that. Just what the heck are you?”

“Oh, I’m just your average adventurer.”

“What kind of adventurer?”

“Time, my dear. Time and space.” He looked very impressed with himself.

“Wait a minute, are you saying you’re some kind of… time traveler?”

“Well, I prefer to be called a time adventurer, but if you wish to call me that, then, yes.”

“And you expect me to believe that?”

“You want proof? Well, alright.”

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a screened device and started typing on it.

“Your name is Kate Stein,” he said as he looked at the screen. “You are originally from Kansas, after college you left the state to start over, but became stuck in a dead end job at this diner. You long for adventure, but you don’t know how to go out and search for it.”

He looked up from the screen. “Shall I continue?”

“How could you know all that?”

“Time traveler,” he said as a smile flashed across his face. “So, do you really want it?”

“Want what?”

“Adventure.”

“I never said adventure, per say.”

“Well, that was my word for it. But you do want a change of pace, yes?”

“Well, yes, I suppose I do.”

He folded his hands and paused for a moment. “Well then… why don’t you come with me?”

“With you? To what, the future?”

“The future, the past, anywhere you like.”

“I don’t know. This is just so much to take in.”

He reached across the table and grabbed my hand and smiled.

I can promise you one thing… it will never be boring.”

I remember smiling uncontrollably.

“Well then, what are we waiting for?”

He picked up his sunglasses and put them on. “Let’s jet.”

“Totally.”

We got up and went for the door. Rose walked out and saw us.

“Where are you going, Kate?” she asked.

I looked back at her.

“I’ve found my path, Rose,” I said. “And now I’m going to walk it.”

“Well, good luck then,” she said as we ran out the door.

That was the last time I ever looked back and I don’t think I ever will again.


- - -
Nicholas Slade is a writer currently living in Florida. Originally from Mississippi, he moved to Florida in 2012 and is currently studying for his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. He has previously been published in Linguistic Erosion, Farther Stars Than These, and Yesteryear Fiction.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

5/8/14

Dear Wife
By David Castlewitz


When Duffy found his wife missing, he called his son, who said, “How can that be?”

Duffy looked at his wife’s vacant blue eyes and said, “I came home and she’s missing. Someone’s stolen her mind.” He stared at the doll in the cushioned chair across from him. “Sylvia,” he ventured, and reached to touch her soft folded hands resting in her lap.

Rob let out a long sigh. “I’ll come over tonight, Dad.” His second sigh lengthened the sound of his last word.

Duffy studied his doll wife’s empty eyes. The black pupils didn’t move. The whites didn’t glimmer. No tears fell. Grief shivered his shoulders. She’d been a good companion, this Sylvia. A lively friend who’d outshone the first Sylvia, Rob’s mother and Duffy’s wife of 30 years. Naming the doll “Sylvia” had come in a moment of spite precipitated by the anger he felt after the divorce and the sight of Sylvia the person enjoying her new life. The doll, Duffy insisted, must be a happy mate, a laughing girl, not the sullen old woman the original had become.

Doll-Sylvia sparkled. Friends marveled at her sense of humor, her ability to create a pleasing dinner, converse on different topics, and contribute to every party. The human Sylvia tossed herbs and spices and meats and vegetables with no regard to flavoring, cooking times, or dining intent, but Doll-Sylvia knew better. About everything.

Duffy spent the afternoon prodding the doll. He poked her rubbery cheek, pushed on her shoulders and pinched her thighs. But she sat mute and unmoving, blue eyes vacant, eyelids not fluttering, chest not moving, fingers not twitching.

At the sound of a car outside, Duffy left the kitchen and ran across the living room to the big front window. The winter sun had set. Rob parked at the curb, but didn’t exit the car. He no longer pulled into the driveway. As Rob once put it, “I don’t live here anymore.” But more often than not, when he arrived at the curb, he sat in his car for an inordinate amount of time, as though to steel himself for a confrontation.

A sudden wind pounded the window, its chill breaching the barrier of thick glass between inside and out. And then Rob left his car, the door slamming shut. Hands in the pockets of his long coat, he rushed along the curved cement path to the house.

Duffy pulled open the door. “She’s in the kitchen.”

“Yeah. Hi, Dad. Nice to see you.”

Rob’s long legged stride took him across the polished floorboards and onto the cheap runner traversing the length of the hallway, and into the kitchen, a big space chiseled out of what had been Duffy’s den, an enclosed back porch and the original kitchen. The first Sylvia wanted a grand palace of a room, one big enough for family breakfasts and daily suppertime get-togethers. Duffy put off giving her any piece of that for as long as he could. They had only the one son, not a large assortment of babes and tots and youngsters to feed.

“We could’ve adopted. We could’ve been a foster family,” Sylvia often complained, and added with a sigh, “We could’ve had so much more.”

Sometime after Rob left for college, Duffy gave her the kitchen she wanted. But she’d fumed about the expense, calling it a waste of money. Too much, too late, she’d lamented, red-faced in her new kitchen with the granite counter tops and island stove.

Duffy crossed his arms, resting them atop his stomach bulge, and leaned into the door jamb. Rob stood in front of Sylvia, his round chin in his hand, his other hand cupping his elbow. He tossed his heavy coat onto the back of a chair. “And this all just happened?” he asked.

“She was okay when I left. I came back and there she sat, just like you see her.”

Rob looked around the kitchen and said, “Too bad Mom didn’t get to enjoy this.”

Duffy bristled. “She could have. I did this for her.”

“Yeah,” Rob said. “She would’ve liked this.”

“I don’t know what your mother told you, but – “

“You never took care of her.”

An old argument. Which Duffy long ago discarded as part of the original Sylvia’s hysteria. She wanted anything and everything, and all for the sake of having things. When he gave her a “dream kitchen,” she tore through the house like a crazy banshee and left him.

“You know what’s wrong with your doll?” Rob pointed at the Sylvia sitting on the kitchen chair, his chubby cheeks red and his gray eyes bulging.

“Someone stole her mind. How do I get it back?”

Rob shook his head. He pulled his cell phone from his shirt pocket. “Don’t know why I try to help,” he muttered. He tapped the screen with a polished fingernail and then showed the display to Duffy.

“Ongoing updates?”

Rob pulled the phone away. “You want a one-year or a two-year contract, Dad?” Another sigh. “Your maintenance agreement expired. That’s why she turned off.”

Duffy looked at Doll-Sylvia. “Two years, Rob.”

“Mark your calendar. So we don’t go through this again. You’ve got to renew the contract. You can see what happens if you don’t. Pay attention to these things.” He shifted from foot to foot, as though waiting for a response. Then, finally, he asked, “Anything else? DVR? House phone? Security panel?”

Duffy shook his head.

Sylvia’s eyelids flickered. Her fingers twitched. Her thin mouth moved, lips sliding against one another.

From the corner of his eye Duffy watched his son leave. “Bye,” he called.

Sylvia said, “Who’re you talking to, dear?”

“Just Rob.” Duffy looked in the direction of his departing son and murmured, “Thanks.” And realized, even a doll-wife required maintenance.


- - -
While I've enjoyed an exciting career as a software developer, with some leading-edge endeavors that kept things interesting if not always profitable, my true love is SF and Fantasy, which I love to write, love to read. I've had several stories published over the past few years. Lately, I've been working on longer work, but keeping a hand in short stories when the idea and the urge can't be put off any longer. I live in a suburb north of Chicago, listen to Country music as well as Classical, ride a bicycle, and can sometimes be a TV junkie.
My web site is www.davidsjournal.com. My Kindle-published books can be accessed by visiting my author’s page:
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidcastlewitz

Thursday, May 1, 2014

5/1/14

Space is Calling
By Martin Tomlinson


The dancing of space surrounds me
Moving an empty catalyst
Its blackness envelops me
Counting the stars as they dance by
We are lost to the empty
All around voices call
To join their symphony


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